ROUTES: Allegiant eyes Canada for international expansion

Las Vegas
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Low-cost leisure carrier Allegiant Air is eyeing scheduled service to Canada as early as the winter of 2014, as the airline prepares to launch its first international service to Mexico in June.

The Las Vegas-based airline will likely begin flights to smaller cities in Atlantic Canada as well as Canada's western regions from Florida, Allegiant's vice president of network and pricing Lukas Johnson tells Flightglobal Pro. Potential Atlantic Canada airports include Moncton, Halifax and St John's, he adds, saying that Allegiant is eyeing routes that airlines do not currently serve. "Obviously, you wouldn't see us flying to Toronto Pearson International," says Johnson.

In line with Allegiant's business model, the flights will bring travellers from these smaller Canadian cities to warm weather holiday destinations in Florida. The earliest the airline could launch these flights would be the winter of 2014, says Johnson. "We are not trying to do the bread and butter WestJet routes," he adds, referring to the Canadian low-cost carrier.

Allegiant currently has authority to operate charter flights to Canada and Mexico, and plans to begin its first international scheduled service to Mexico around June 2014. The airline has applied for approval to launch operations between Las Vegas and Hermosillo and San Jose del Cabo. Johnson says Allegiant has won approval from the US Department of Transportation to begin the flights but is still awaiting the go-ahead from Mexican authorities.

The airline is steadily growing its presence at Florida's secondary airports, specifically Orlando Sanford, St Petersburg Clearwater and Punta Gorda. In August it outlined plans to add 16 new routes from Florida between October and December, bringing the airline's total number of destinations from the state to more than 100.

Allegiant's east coast operations, which includes four airports in Florida and Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, accounts for around 40% of its total network now but this will go up to 48% in end-2014, says Johnson. At the same time, the share of its Las Vegas flights is gradually shrinking in its overall network, from 63% in 2007 to 29% in end-2014. This is due to rising airport costs at Las Vegas, he says.